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Teen's death is father's worst fear Add to ...

Paul Frustaglio spent the first days of his son's short life on the floor.

After he and his wife, Ann-Marie, brought Evan home from the hospital he couldn't help but worry that he firstborn might stop breathing.

"I slept on the floor in the room and I was just making sure he breathed all night, I just didn't want to leave his side," Mr. Frustaglio recalled.

Yesterday his fears came true.

Less than 13 years and two months after he brought Evan home from the hospital, the 46-year-old father found his son collapsed on the bathroom floor. He called 911 and tried frantically to resuscitate Evan before paramedics arrived.

The healthy Grade 8 student and star hockey player died a short time later of what Mr. Frustaglio later learned was H1N1.

He was the 30th to die in Ontario since the H1N1 outbreak began, one of a small fraction of the flu's casualties who seemed in perfect health before they died.

The Globe on H1N1

Evan and his team were part of a 48-team minor hockey tournament that ran from Friday through Sunday at London's Western Fair Sports Centre, drawing teams from both sides of the U.S. border, said Stephen Firth, president of the London Rep Hockey Association.

In all, Mr. Firth gauged that close to 700 youths aged 13, 14 and 15 would have participated.

Evan's team, the Mississauga Senators, played three games in all, none against any London teams. They played against the Michigan Jaguars, and two teams from Toronto - North Toronto and the Ajax Knights.

Mr. Firth said he learned of Evan's death on Monday night, in a call from the Stratford-based Minor Hockey Alliance, adding that so far there is no sense of panic among London residents.

"But everybody I've talked to is surprised at the apparent speed" with which the flu claimed Evan's life.

"That's one of the oddities - that the boy who succumbed was very healthy and very athletic."

At its regular meeting Wednesday night, the Minor Hockey Alliance will be reviewing options, he said.

He'd complained of a sore throat but managed to have a strong game on Saturday evening in a narrow loss that left the competitive right wing forward frustrated.

Like many boys his age, Evan was an eater. (He loved steak and had ordered escargot at a fancy restaurant to celebrate his 13th birthday with his family.) That night, after a dinner out with teammates, Evan began feeling sick.

Ms. Frustaglio said he developed "a slight fever and coughing" that progressed until he started vomiting.

The next day, Sunday, she backed up their bags and they drove home to Toronto.

That afternoon, as Evan's nausea continued, the Frustaglios became concerned and took their son to a walk-in clinic.

"In essence, the doctor checked him," said Mr. Frustaglio. "He said his lungs were fine, he didn't prescribe us any meds whatsoever, he just said keep him on the Tylenol and some Gravol for his vomiting and just keep an eye on him."

Evan continued to vomit through the night, but appeared to be making a recovery by yesterday morning - the vomiting had stopped and his fever was gone.

Shortly after Evan took a bath his father knocked on the bathroom door to check on him.

"I went in and he was lying on the ground and I said, 'Evan, Come on, you got to get up off the floor!'" Mr. Frustaglio said. "So I went to pick him up and he started to get up and he essentially collapsed as I was carrying him."

Both Evan and his younger brother, Will, 10, had had the flu before. Mr. Frustaglio said it wasn't until he saw the helpless look on his son's face as he lay limp on the bathroom floor that he realized that this wasn't a regular flu.

"All I can tell people is just watch your children and if they don't seem right to you, don't hesitate to get medical attention," he said. "And if somebody says, Oh it's just the flu, that's not a good enough answer."

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